Who doesn’t love free?  At Comic Con, you have to work at getting the free stuff.  You would think it would be as easy as holding out your hand.  But you’re competing with about 500 people who want the same thing.

Trampling over people is standard.

I arrived three hours before the 6-9PM Preview Night.  The registration was extremely short even for regular convention-goers.  Press and professionals have a shorter line.  I entered the line to wait to get onto the Exhibition Floor (with the exception of a screening, that is the extent of Preview Night).  A security person told me that press gets a special line.  I was taken out of line and then told that that only applied to professionals.  The personnel of this outside firm — its first Comic-Con — were not well-informed.  I found my friends, who I joined further in front of the line.

One of ten different Warner Brothers bags was given out upon checking in.  I saw many people filching extras to get a full set.  Sunday they had no bags left.  And even limited production bags were made including a Green Lantern bag and supposedly an alt-universe Fringe bag — I probably traded that away.  The GL bag is going for $50 on ebay by a couple sellers with another selling it under $10 — probably people unaware of its exclusivity.

Most of the booths during Preview Night keep a steady giveaway; as professionals are allowed to badge a guest as well as a child—the night disables the press from getting uninterrupted photos and access to the booths.  A limited number of general public is allowed to buy passes for the night such that those three hours are all about buying exclusives and getting free stuff before anyone else.

But the booths do hold back their big giveaways for the rest of the days.

Swag was in full swing Thursday.   Warner Brothers and its DC Comics gave away unique gifts, always doing extra to please its fans.

Wayne Casino chips were doled out, a different color each day, as well as The Big Bang Theory sizzle magnets, Looney Tunes cube toys, and Supernatural salt shakers. (On the show, salt is used as a weapon against supernatural enemies — it kills slugs, why not ghosts?)  Some casino chips are on eBay for twice the face value….  An exclusive black $100 chip was also handed out on a selective basis.






I was asked by a non-convention-goer to sell my Three Musketeers free giveaway bag for $5, and I accepted.  I still feel guilty about it.  Available nowhere else though….

I wanted a Conan T-shirt but not enough to stalk the booth.   ABC/Disney was stingy with its giveaways — retro Pan Am bags and surprise gifts supposedly dropped into Phineas and Ferb backpacks.  Though nicely designed, the handles on the FOX poster tube broke.

I took it somewhat easy on the free giveaways because I would be paying for it on the trip home.  Next time, I’ll investigate the ins-and-outs of the booths’ giveaways more thoroughly before going.  Some walked away with a free iPad2!  But no, not me.


— Ken Choy

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